Things you should know going into this post:
1) Christian and I do not have a perfect marriage. We have a good, strong marriage. He is my best friend and probably the only person around whom I will ever pass gas (on purpose). Not too terribly unrelated (or totally unrelated), I had a friend years ago who never tooted in front of her spouse. I can’t live with those kinds of boundaries. You love me, you gotta love all of me, especially the stinky me.
2) If you can show me someone who claims to have a perfect marriage, I will show you someone who is clearly living a one way fantasy. Or they are a liar. Or they have terrible gas pains from holding it in. I’ll go with all of the above.
So…this may have gotten a bit off track, but the secret to a big chunk of our happiness has nothing to do with tooting. No, the secret to part of our happiness is extremely simple. Like, you’ll read it and say THAT’S IT?! because really, it’s absurd. Here it goes.
We let each other sleep in.
I know it is terribly simple, and I also know that there are SO MANY exhausted women and wives and mothers who don’t get this small, yet extremely meaningful reciprocation. I did a little informal poll on my Facebook page a while back, and most of the responses went something like Gurl, you trippin.’ I never get to sleep in!
Ladies. Seriously. This has to stop. We need this. Look at you, you can barely read this you’re so tired. Your sweater is on inside out, and I think you might be drooling.
I get up early to get kids to school. That sucks. I am the first line of defense when they need food, snacks, a hug, or their butt wiped at 3 am. That really sucks, especially when Christian is RIGHTTHERE. Hand to God, I can sleep on the complete opposite side of the bed, and they will walk all the way around it to get to me instead of bothering him. It’s sweet and all, but TOTALLY UNFAIR.
By the end of the week – well, Tuesday if I’m being honest – I am DEAD TIRED.
So just about every week, unless we have plans, Saturday is my sleep in day. And Sunday is his. Sometimes we switch, maybe if he stayed out late for a Friday night poker game. Sometimes if I have weekend morning plans, I give up my day because I’m thoughtful like that, albeit a bit of a martyr. Depending on how busy we are, the person who got up early usually gets to take a nap later in the day.
[Side note: Naps are NOT a long term substitute for sleeping in. They work on the fly, and they might, in fact, be better than sleeping in, but the thing is, a nap is never guaranteed. So just kick your beloved out of the bed when the kids come a-calling at 6:54 am.]
Now for the next secret:
This did not happen overnight.
Sometimes in telling people that we have this sleeping in arrangement, I get wistful stares and You’re so lucky! and That would never fly with my husband. Mmmhmmmm, girlfriend. I feel you.
But the thing is, this whole thing isn’t about sleeping in at all. It’s about compromise.
Each morning for years, we would both lay in bed, stiff as boards, when the kids cried out, wandered into the room, or we could hear them wreaking havoc in the bathroom. Why isn’t he getting up? I would think-shout. Why isn’t SHE getting up? He would equally think-shout. We could barely hear ourselves over the think-shouting.
And then inevitably, someone would throw the covers back, give a big HARUMPH! and stomp out of the room, almost-not-quite slamming the door on the way out. It was passive aggressiveness at it’s finest. An entire argument covered with no one saying a word. Think-shouting and silent arguing is not the best way to start a morning.
Every few months or so I would reach my breaking point and I would have to talk it out by basically exploding and projecting all of my fatigue onto him with ear splitting shrieks and general nastiness towards everyone. And it would come out that I was just tired, and I would really appreciate it if he would get up with the kids once in a while.
But it never stuck. He eventually slipped back into his groggy ways.
See, instead of continuing to make my needs known, I assumed that he would continue to meet them without fail. And being a flawed human (like we all are) who is SO not a morning person, he failed.
Our partners, they are not mind readers. Oh, I wish he was, but he’s not. I have to nudge him sometimes to do this or that, just like he has to nudge me to show a little extra affection or PDA, which is MY flaw. One of many.
So here’s what I did.
As I was crawling into bed one Friday night, I said, Man, I cannot WAIT for tomorrow.
Him, puzzled: Why’s that?
Me, matter of fact: Because I’m going to sleep in while you get up with the kids!
Oh yes, I did. And I stand corrected: THIS may have been passive aggressiveness at its finest.
But he was cool with it, because deep down inside, he knew I needed this. And after a few weeks of the same, silly passive aggressive statements, we fell into a pattern, and here we are. I don’t really recommend passive aggressive tactics (although they ARE my specialty), but this is what worked for us. It was my way of sitting down and saying Look, dude. I needs me some sleep.
Now for part three.
We don’t let one another sleep all freaking day.
Neither of us really wants to sleep past 9 or so, unless we’re sick or have spent the majority of the night bed-hopping with the children. But we do want to get a good start on the day.
Now when I’m the one who gets up, I get the kids fed and usually let them watch some cartoons to keep them quiet. I use that time to drink my coffee, read some internet, and maybe do some writing. I love those mornings.
When Christian is in charge, it eats him (and the kids) alive that I am sleeping in. They constantly ask Where’s Mommy? Can we wake Mommy up? I NEED MOMMY. And he – no joke – comes in and wakes me up approximately 20 seconds after the clock strikes 9.
They don’t ask about him when he’s sleeping in. ‘Tis a blessing and a curse to be the mom.
Again, this isn’t really about sleeping in at all. It’s about compromise. I needed something, and I had to make it known, even if it took a few tries to make it stick.
Whatever it is, you have to find an area where you each can give and take a little, your compromise. Maybe it’s sleeping in. Maybe you get up with the kids all the time, but then your partner gives you a few hours to yourself to go have coffee, shop, or nap. Maybe the compromise is that he makes dinner, or bathes the kids. No one should feel like they carry all of the burden of caring for young children, and no one should especially have to live with crippling, mind crushing fatigue.
Stand up for yourself in your marriage, and make it clear what it is that you need to get a little sanity. I was dying to sleep in JUST ONCE A WEEK. That was all I wanted! All I wanted was – just one day out of seven – to NOT have the responsibility of getting up and making breakfast fall on my shoulders. I had to start a conversation about it and make this one thing very clear. This isn’t by far the only compromise we have in our relationship, but I do credit a good portion of our happiness (and my now lack of resentment) to this teeny tiny agreement.
What compromises do you have in your marriage?